3.1 Financial risk management

General principles

The Alpiq Group’s operating activities are exposed to strategic and operational risks, in particular credit, liquidity and market risks (energy price risk, foreign currency risk and interest rate risk). The principles of the Group’s risk management policy are established by the Board of Directors. The Executive Board is responsible for their development and implementation. The Risk Management Committee monitors compliance with the principles and policies. It also defines the hedging strategy for the production of the Group’s own power plant portfolio, which is approved by the Executive Board.

The principles for managing risks in the Alpiq Group are set out in the Group Risk Policy. They comprise guidelines on the incurring, measurement, management and mitigation of business risks and specify the organisation and responsibilities for risk management. The units responsible manage their risks within the framework of the risk management policy and the limits defined for their areas of activity. The objective is to maintain a reasonable balance between the business risks incurred, earnings and risk-bearing equity.

The Group Risk Policy comprises a Group-wide Business Risk Policy, an Energy Risk Policy specifically for the energy business and a Financial Risk Policy. The Business Risk Policy governs the annual risk mapping process, the definition and monitoring of the measures to reduce exposure to operational and strategic risks as well as integral security management. The Energy Risk Policy defines the processes and methods to manage market and credit risks in the energy business. It also regulates the management of liquidity fluctuations caused by trading activities on stock exchanges and under bilateral arrangements to settle margin differences. Furthermore, it defines the principles of the hedging strategy for energy production trading books. The Financial Risk Policy defines the substance, organisation and system for financial risk management within the Alpiq Group. It defines the management of liquidity, foreign currency and interest rate risks.

The Risk Management functional unit is responsible for managing risks and reports to the CEO. The functional unit provides methods and tools for implementing risk management, and ensures timely reporting to the Board of Directors, Executive Board and the Risk Management Committee.

During the annual business risk assessment process, strategic and operational risks throughout the Group are recorded and assessed, and then assigned to the identified risk owners for management and monitoring. The Risk Management functional unit monitors the implementation of the measures. Exposure limits are set for market, credit and liquidity risks, which are adjusted in the context of the company’s overall risk-bearing capacity and with compliance monitored on an ongoing basis.

Capital management

Across the Alpiq Group, capital is managed in line with the Group’s overall financial strategy. During the budgeting and planning process, the Board of Directors takes notice annually of the planned performance of the figures critical for capital management. In addition, it receives regular reports on current developments. The strategy is focused on the Group’s reported consolidated equity and net debt to EBITDA ratio. At 31 December 2021, the Group reports an equity ratio of 26.2 % (previous year: 51.0 %).

Alpiq Holding Ltd. procures a significant portion of financing centrally for the Alpiq Group. The Swiss capital market forms the main source of financing. In the second half of 2021, Alpiq drew on the committed short-term credit lines to cover the sharp increase in financing requirements for trading activities. The shareholders also provided short-term liquidity. At 31 December 2021, Alpiq Holding Ltd. held 70 % of the Group’s total financial liabilities (61 %). The level of financial liabilities must be reasonable in proportion to profitability in order to ensure a solid credit rating in line with sector norms. The ratio of net debt to EBITDA before exceptional items plays a decisive role in capital management. This is calculated as follows:

CHF million

31 Dec 2021

31 Dec 2020

Non-current financial liabilities

627

913

Current financial liabilities

946

299

Financial liabilities

1,573

1,212

Current term deposits

35

596

Securities

 

27

Cash and cash equivalents

863

340

Financial assets (liquidity)

898

963

Net debt

675

249

EBITDA before exceptional items

302

262

Net debt / EBITDA before exceptional items

2.2

1.0

The Alpiq Group has the following credit lines from banks:

CHF million

31 Dec 2021

31 Dec 2020

Non-earmarked credit lines committed by banks and financial institutions

503

353

Of which, utilised

331

Of which, still available

172

353

The Alpiq Group has the following covenants from finance agreements:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Financial covenants

Other covenants

Agreement

Maturity

In CHF million

Utilisation at 31 Dec 2021 in CHF million

Utilisation at 31 Dec 2020 in CHF million

Equity ratio

Net debt / EBITDA

Bank rating

Syndicated loan line

Dec 22

200

200

0

x

x

x

The counterparty has a right to terminate the agreement if the covenants are breached. At 31 December 2020, all covenants were met. At the reporting date 31 December 2021, the syndicated loan banks agreed to suspend the financial covenants until final maturity on 31 December 2022. The bank rating requirement continued to be met.

Credit risk management

Credit risk management deals with potential losses arising from business partners’ inability to meet their contractual obligations to the Alpiq Group.

Credit risk management in the energy business encompasses all business units and subsidiaries that transact significant business volumes with external counterparties. It entails regular monitoring of outstanding receivables from counterparties and their expected future changes, as well as an analysis of the creditworthiness of new and existing counterparties. Besides energy derivatives recognised as financial instruments on the balance sheet, credit risk management also covers physical receipt or delivery contracts. Credit risk is primarily managed by applying rating-based credit limits. The Alpiq Group classifies counterparties or groups of counterparties (with similar risk characteristics) in risk categories (AAA – CCC) based on probability of default. Once established, these ratings are applied as the basis for setting credit limits. Such limits may be increased if collateral (such as guarantees, advances or insurance cover) is provided. The ratings of active counterparties are reviewed periodically and credit limits are adjusted where appropriate. The policy in the energy business is to enter into contracts only with counterparties that meet the criteria of the Group Risk Policy. Outstanding credit exposures are monitored and managed on an ongoing basis using a formalised process.

The maximum credit risk corresponds to the carrying amount of the financial assets and is calculated at CHF 8,785 million at 31 December 2021 (previous year: CHF 2,720 million). Credit risk is reduced by collateral. The Alpiq Group’s exposure to concentrations of risk is reduced by the number of customers, geographical diversification as well as the consolidation of positions. Due to the significant increase in energy prices in the 2021 reporting year, the replacement values of energy derivatives and thus the credit risk associated with several counterparties in various countries increased considerably and also led to liquidity problems at certain counterparties. Measures were agreed with the counterparties to reduce the impact on Alpiq. Taking into account the credit risk, the corresponding energy derivatives were reclassified to Level 3 energy derivatives, see note 3.2. By the end of the year, these items could be reduced to around CHF 1 million. Information about the effect on receivables is disclosed in note 4.5.

In addition, on the reporting date, there were the following concentrations of risk with two counterparties without concrete indications of a default risk:

CHF million

31 Dec 2021

Counterparty classified in risk category BBB

 

Positive replacement values for energy derivatives

851

Trade receivables

96

Counterparty classified in risk category BB-

 

Positive replacement values for energy derivatives

657

Trade receivables

1

In order to actively manage the credit risk associated with cash and cash equivalents and term deposits, the Treasury functional unit at the Alpiq Group centrally sets limits that restrict the amount of assets held at a counterparty. The limits are calculated and monitored monthly based on a number of factors. As in the previous year, no significant concentrations of risk existed at the reporting date, as cash and cash equivalents and term deposits are widely diversified, staggered over time and invested with counterparties with a low credit risk. To date, there have been no impairment losses on receivables due from financial counterparties.

Offsetting of financial assets and liabilities

A substantial portion of the energy contracts entered into by the Alpiq Group is based on agreements containing a netting arrangement. Netting arrangements are used widely in energy trading to reduce the volume of effective cash flows. Items relating to the same counterparties are only presented on a net basis in the balance sheet if a legally enforceable right to offsetting of the recognised amounts exists in the netting arrangement, and the intention exists to settle on a net basis.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

31 Dec 2021

31 Dec 2020

CHF million

Gross

Offsetting

Net (balance sheet)

Gross

Offsetting

Net (balance sheet)

Financial assets

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trade receivables

3,644

– 1,998

1,646

1,739

– 1,025

714

Energy derivatives 1

22,101

– 17,041

5,060

1,805

– 1,184

621

Currency and interest rate derivatives

38

38

5

 

5

Financial liabilities

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trade payables

3,011

– 1,998

1,013

1,434

– 1,025

409

Energy derivatives

22,363

– 17,041

5,322

1,626

– 1,184

442

Currency and interest rate derivatives

21

21

19

 

19

1 Of which, a net amount of CHF 41 million (previous year: CHF 0 million) stems from own use contracts designated at fair value on initial recognition.

Financial collateral

Furthermore, additional collateral, such as guarantees, variation margin payments or insurance cover, is collected where required. As a rule, the collateral held by the Alpiq Group covers both unrecognised energy transactions involving physical delivery and transactions recognised as financial instruments. Financial collateral received and issued in connection with the bilateral agreements to settle margin differences is presented in the following:

 

 

 

 

 

 

31 Dec 2021

31 Dec 2020

CHF million

Collateral received

Collateral issued

Collateral received

Collateral issued

Cash collateral 1

318

101

58

12

Guarantees 2

323

72

6

 

Total

641

173

64

12

1 Contained under “Receivables” or “Other current liabilities” respectively

2 Guarantees to associates or third parties in favour of third parties are presented in note 4.8.

Liquidity risk

A substantial portion of the receivables in European energy trading is offset and settled on specified dates each month (netting). Margin agreements are commonly used on energy commodity exchanges and among energy traders to reduce counterparty risk. Consequently, Alpiq has to provide or can demand significant collateral in the form of liquidity or bank guarantees due to energy price movements. In addition, they can result in significant changes in liquidity, as both Alpiq and its counterparties are in most cases contractually entitled to replace cash collateral with bank guarantees in the short term and vice versa. The Alpiq Group manages such variable liquidity requirements by means of an early warning system, by maintaining sufficient liquid resources and by obtaining committed credit lines from banks. The role of liquidity management is to plan, monitor, provide and optimise liquidity of the Alpiq Group on a monthly rolling basis.

The anticipated cash flows of financial liabilities and derivative financial instruments are disclosed in the table below. Where the intention exists to refinance loans at the end of the contract term, but refinancing has not yet been contractually secured, a cash outflow on maturity is assumed. Accordingly, actual cash flows can differ significantly from the contractual maturities. The cash flows from derivatives are presented net when there are netting arrangements in place with counterparties and the amounts are expected to be settled net. Depending on the future changes in value of the derivatives until maturity, the effective cash flows may deviate significantly from the amounts reported. In order to demonstrate the effective liquidity risk from derivative financial instruments, the cash inflows and outflows from contracts with positive and negative replacement values are shown in the following table, even though IFRS only requires the presentation of the liquidity risk of financial liabilities. Derivative financial instruments for hedging future own use energy transactions are normally not included in the table, because these are unrecognised pending transactions.

2021: Maturity analysis of financial liabilities and derivative financial instruments

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carrying amount

Cash flows

CHF million

 

Total

< 1 month

1 – 3 months

4 – 12 months

1 – 5 years

> 5 years

Trade payables

1,013

– 1,013

– 886

– 106

– 20

– 1

Bonds

675

– 709

– 291

– 418

Loans payable

854

– 871

– 441

– 129

– 101

– 154

– 46

Lease liabilities

44

– 54

– 1

– 1

– 5

– 23

– 24

Other financial liabilities 1

507

– 457

– 407

– 37

– 11

– 2

Cash outflows from non-derivative financial liabilities

 

– 3,104

– 1,735

– 273

– 428

– 598

– 70

Energy derivatives 2

– 262

Cash inflows

4,789

2

971

1,913

1,837

66

Cash outflows

– 5,039

– 4

– 1,064

– 2,179

– 1,785

– 7

Currency / interest rate derivatives

17

Cash inflows

736

337

310

79

10

Cash outflows

– 726

– 330

– 300

– 81

– 15

Net cash inflows / (outflows) from derivative financial instruments

 

– 240

5

– 83

– 268

47

59

1 The carrying amount includes liabilities in connection with the convertible loans of Swissgrid Ltd, for which no cash outflow is expected (see note 3.3).

2 Of which, an amount of CHF 41 million stems from own use contracts designated at fair value on initial recognition.

2020: Maturity analysis of financial liabilities and derivative financial instruments

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carrying amount

Cash flows

CHF million

 

Total

< 1 month

1 – 3 months

4 – 12 months

1 – 5 years

> 5 years

Trade payables

409

– 409

– 379

– 23

– 7

Bonds

818

– 870

– 162

– 708

Loans payable

346

– 365

– 29

– 112

– 174

– 50

Lease liabilities

48

– 60

– 1

– 1

– 5

– 26

– 27

Other financial liabilities 1

263

– 157

– 114

– 34

– 8

– 1

Cash outflows from non-derivative financial liabilities

 

– 1,861

– 494

– 87

– 294

– 909

– 77

Energy derivatives

179

Cash inflows

3,355

3

351

1,405

1,587

9

Cash outflows

– 3,095

– 5

– 421

– 1,363

– 1,301

– 5

Currency / interest rate derivatives

– 14

Cash inflows

1,669

74

327

1,252

16

Cash outflows

– 1,683

– 73

– 327

– 1,257

– 26

Net cash inflows / (outflows) from derivative financial instruments

 

246

– 1

– 70

37

276

4

1 The carrying amount includes liabilities in connection with the convertible loans of Swissgrid Ltd, for which no cash outflow is expected (see note 3.3).

Market risk

The Alpiq Group’s exposure to market risk primarily comprises energy price risk, foreign currency risk and interest rate risk. These risks are monitored on an ongoing basis and managed using derivative financial instruments. Market risk is measured within the framework of the Group Risk Policy that sets out rules on the taking of risks as well as their measurement, limitation and monitoring. Compliance with the risk limits is monitored on an ongoing basis by the Risk Management Committee based on regular reporting by the Risk Management functional unit.

Energy price risk

Energy price risk refers to potential price fluctuations that could have an adverse impact on the Alpiq Group. They can arise from factors such as variations in price volatility, market price movements or changing correlations between markets and products. Energy liquidity risks also belong to this category. They occur when an open energy position cannot be closed out or can only be closed out on very unfavourable terms due to a lack of market bids. Future own use energy transactions are normally not reported as financial instruments. Energy transactions are also conducted as part of the programme to optimise Alpiq’s power plant portfolio. A large proportion of the replacement values for energy derivatives shown at the reporting date are attributable to optimisation positions, with positive and negative replacement values generally cancelling each other out. Alpiq also engages in energy derivatives trading. The energy derivatives concluded by the Alpiq Group are usually forward contracts. The fair values are calculated on the basis of the difference between the contractually fixed forward prices and current forward prices applicable at the reporting date. Normally, the effect of credit risk on fair values is not material. Information about the situation in 2021 can be found in the “Credit risk management” section. The risks associated with trading and optimisation transactions are managed via clearly defined responsibilities and stipulated risk limits in accordance with the Group Risk Policy. Risk Management reports regularly on compliance with these limits to the Risk Management Committee and the Executive Board utilising a formalised risk reporting system. The risk positions are monitored in accordance with the Value at Risk (VaR) and Profit at Risk (PaR) industry standards.

Foreign currency risk

The Alpiq Group seeks wherever possible to mitigate foreign currency risks by natural hedging of operating income and expenses denominated in foreign currencies. The remaining foreign currency risk is hedged by means of forward transactions in accordance with the Group’s Financial Risk Policy. Foreign currency risk arising from energy generation or purchasing is contractually transferred to the counterparty wherever possible. Where this is not possible or is only partly possible, forward currency contracts with a medium-term hedging horizon are deployed to manage exposure centrally on the market in line with the Group’s Financial Risk Policy. Hedge accounting is used where possible to avoid fluctuations in results. The foreign currency derivatives are all OTC products. The fair values are calculated on the basis of the difference between the contractually fixed forward prices and forward prices applicable at the reporting date. Net investments in foreign subsidiaries are also exposed to changes in foreign exchange rates, although the difference in inflation rates should offset these changes in the long term. Investments in foreign subsidiaries (translation risks) are therefore not hedged.

Interest rate risk

The risks arising from volatility in interest rates relate to the interest-bearing financial assets and liabilities of the Alpiq Group. According to the Group’s Financial Risk Policy, liquidity is invested for a maximum of two years. The funding required for the business, however, is obtained on a long-term basis at fixed interest rates. Financing instruments with variable interest rates, particularly those that are long-term, are generally hedged by means of interest rate swaps. This means that a change in interest rates applied to interest-bearing assets has an impact on financial income. The interest rate derivatives are all OTC products. The fair value is determined by discounting the contractually agreed payment streams with current market interest rates.

Sensitivity analysis

To illustrate the sensitivity of market risks to the Alpiq Group’s financial results, the effects of reasonably possible changes in the market risks listed above are set out below. The sensitivities are based in each case on financial instruments recognised on the reporting date. The possible annual percentage changes in the fair values of energy derivatives are determined from the commodity market prices for electricity, gas, coal and oil over the past three years. The sensitivities are calculated by applying maximum deviations from the mean with a 99 % confidence level. Taking into consideration the historical fluctuations, the reasonably possible changes in foreign currency prices are estimated at 5 %. Interest rate swap sensitivity is shown as the effect on the change in fair value that would arise from a 1 % parallel shift in the yield curve. Alpiq quantifies each type of risk assuming that all other variables remain constant. The effects for continuing operations are shown before tax.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

31 Dec 2021

31 Dec 2020

CHF million

+ / – in %

+ / – effect on earnings before income tax

+ / – effect on OCI before income tax

+ / – in %

+ / – effect on earnings before income tax

+ / – effect on OCI before income tax

Energy price risk

154.7

470

 

47.4

85

 

EUR / CHF currency risk

5.0

30

27

5.0

0

35

EUR / CZK currency risk

5.0

0

 

5.0

0

 

EUR / PLN currency risk

5.0

1

 

5.0

0

 

Interest rate risk

1.0

2

2

1.0

6

4

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